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Organ and tissue donation law in Scotland

The law in Scotland is changing to introduce an opt out system for organ and tissue donation for deceased donors in autumn 2020.

Under the new law, if you are an adult over the age of 16 and you do not record a donation decision, you may be deemed to have authorised donation for transplantation. 

You still have a choice if you want to be a donor or not when you die, and you do not have to wait until autumn 2020 to make this decision.

If you have not confirmed whether or not you wish to become a donor – by either opting in or out on the NHS Organ Donor Register - it will be assumed that you are willing to donate your organs and tissue when you die and your authorisation for donation may be deemed to have been given.

This is subject to the safeguards within the new legislation which seek to ensure that donation does not go ahead where it would go against a person’s wishes. This helps to make sure that any decision recorded on the NHS Organ Donor Register is the latest known decision.

Certain groups will be excluded from this new legislation.

What do I need to do?

  1. Record your donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register
  2. Tell your family and friends what you have decided

Your choices

Register to become a donor

If you want to be a donor, you should register to be a donor (opt in) on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Register not to become a donor

If you do not want to be a donor, you can register not to be a donor (opt out) on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

If you don't record a donation decision

If you don't record a donation decision (opt in or opt out) it may be assumed that you are willing to become a donor. 

Updating your details or decision

If you have already registered a donation decision, you can update your personal details, reaffirm your decision or update your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Nominating a representative

It is not possible to nominate an appointed representative to make a donation decision on your behalf under current Scottish law.

Tell your family and friends

It is very important that you discuss your donation decision with your family and friends so they can support your decision. 

More information

More information about how organ donation works in Scotland is available on the Organ Donation Scotland Website.



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